Small town pitches in big for kids in hospital

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Take one small town with a big heart, mix in thousands of dollars in donated toys and you’ve brightened the day for kids who’ll spend the holidays in the hospital.

“We wanted to give back as a small community to a bigger one,” Hopkins High School senior Maya Kerber said as she helped dozens of fellow students and volunteers unload over $10,000 worth of toys for children at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Friday morning.

“We used our high school, middle school and both elementary schools and our surrounding community,” Kerber said. “We had people coming to us with donations for us to go get toys. We had so many donations coming into our school… It’s just crazy.”

2021 marks the sixth year Hopkins’s Epic Toy Drive is brightening the holiday for sick kids.

The drive was started by Dawson Bibiak, a young Leukemia patient who knew what it was like to be in the hospital over the holidays. Dawson, who parents are teachers in Hopkins, got better and wanted to give back. Now, it’s become a community project for students in Hopkins, and the whole town gets involved. 

“It’s just a great way to give back. I’m a national honor society student and there’s others of them here today too… Just part of our community service in giving back,” Kerber said.

This year, enough toys were purchased to provide a little something special for young patients throughout the year at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. 

The Epic Toy Drive has served as a lesson for Hopkins’s students that can be summed up in one word: give.

“It’s not all about getting. It’s giving,” third grade teacher Heather Ruthruff said.

The only drawback, the kids from Hopkins don’t get to see the look on the faces of the patients receiving the gifts.

“It’s tough,” Kerber said “But we know in our hearts we made a difference.”

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